Romanian aviation with a long tradition consisting of national adaptations and contributions, supported the development of the national scientific and technical thinking in this fundamental area of human civilisation at a time when the construction of propeller driven planes had only begun. Romanian creativity led to fundamental achievements both in the technique and in the art of flying as well as in aviation engineering, e.g. the design and development of multistage missiles, the achievement of reactive and vertical flying, firing through the propeller arc, the design of “delta” wing aircraft or of non-conventional flying machines. Due to their inventive spirit, scientists such as Traian Vuia, Grigore Brişcu, Henri Coandă, George Arion, Tache Brumărescu, Hermann Oberth, Nicolae Văideanu, Vasile Dimitrescu and others brought a remarkable tribute to the aeronautical history.

Romanian aviation, set up officially in 1910, started to develop especially from 1920 to 1940 and followed continuously world progress in this field. In accordance with political and economic environment, Romania’s economic interests imposed the promotion of its defence industry, therefore, on the 25-th of June 1925, King Ferdinand promulgated the “Law on industrial enterprises related to the national defence”, which stipulated in art. 1, clause 2, “the setting up of the Romanian Aeronautical Industry” with a view to “aircraft manufacturing”. This is the official birth certificate of the Romanian Aeronautical Industry.

The period between the two World Wars was characterized by the development of the  production of aircraft and engines manufactured domestically, under licence or to their own design by domestic defence companies, such as Arsenalul Aeronautic, SET and ICAR in Bucharest, STC in Constanţa, ASTRA in Arad, Schiell and IAR in Braşov. One of the best known and appreciated aircraft was the IAR-80 fighter, of full metal construction, with successful aerodynamics and fitted with retractable landing gear, variable pitch propeller, flaps with hydraulic actuation, and cockpit with oxygen installation for high altitude flying. Both the aircraft and its engine were fully designed and manufactured in Romania, ranking the 4-th among the fighter aircraft around the world at that time.

Destroyed partially at the end of World War II or directed towards other fields of activity, the Romanian Aeronautical Industry started its difficult recovery after 1949, by providing aircraft maintenance and repair.

The real development of the aeronautical industry, including R&D, started after 1968. From 1968 to 1989, major R&D and manufacturing programmes were initiated for aircraft, engines and aeronautical equipment and huge investments were made in order to set up new facilities or develop the existing ones in Bucharest, Brasov, Bacau and Craiova. At that time eight enterprises and two research institutes were operating, co-ordinated by a state-owned holding - the National Centre of the Romanian Aeronautical Industry - and staffed with about 35,000 employees, of which 2,500 were working in research institutes.

According to the strategy of the time, the following were initiated:

    1. fighter aircraft programmes for military aviation, such as IAR-93 manufactured in co-operation with the former Yugoslavia (ceased after 1989);
    2. the IAR-99 trainer aircraft programme, designed domestically, meant for military aviation (the manufacturing of the upgraded IAR-99 SOIM continues currently);
    3. the engine programmes for IAR-93 and IAR-99, under Rolls Royce licence;
    4. the civil and fighter helicopter programmes (IAR-316 Allouette and IAR-330 PUMA), manufactured under Eurocopter licence (for the PUMA helicopter, licenses were acquired both for the platform and for the engine and mechanic assemblies);
    5. the BN-2 light transport aircraft programme, manufactured according to Britten-Norman project;
    6. the BAC 1-11 regional airliner, under BAE licence both for the platform and for the engines;
    7. the IAK-52 light trainer aircraft programme, under Russian licence;
    8. the agricultural aircraft programme, designed domestically;
    9. the gliders and motorgliders programme designed domestically;
    10. the programmes for airborne instruments and avionics, ejection seats, hydraulic and pneumatic components, and cast and forged parts for aircraft and engines;
    11. the IAR-93, IAR-99, IAR-330 flight simulators programme.


During that period, the Romanian Aeronautical Industry manufactured about 80 types of aircraft, 30 types of gliders and motorgliders and 3 types of helicopters, in all about 3,200 aircraft and 2,000 engines and aircraft mechanical assemblies.

After 1989, the former state enterprises became commercial companies mainly state-owned, with some of them being privatised in the meantime. Taking into consideration that both the domestic and the foreign orders for aeronautical products and services decreased dramatically and that certain programmes were stopped or reconsidered, the companies in this field resized their personnel number; at present they employ about 7,000 qualified people fully skilled for aircraft research, design and development, aircraft manufacturing, general assembling, integration of modern avionics and systems, maintenance, overhaul and repair works, upgrade programmes, flight test and certification, customer support.

Starting with 1996, new programmes (including modernisation programmes) for services equipment with modern armament systems were initiated, of which the most important are:

    1. the upgrade of the MiG-21 LANCER aircraft (defence programme);
    2. the upgrade of the IAR-330 PUMA helicopter with the SOCAT system (defence programme);
    3. the conversion of the IAR-330 PUMA helicopter into a naval helicopter (defence programme);
    4. the modernisation of the PUMA helicopter (export programme);
    5. the friend-or-foe identification system, IFF (defence programme);
    6. the production and upgrade of the IAR-99 SOIM  advanced trainer aircraft (defence programme);
    7. the maintenance of helicopters, of their engines and mechanical assemblies (defence programme);
    8. the aircraft and aircraft engines maintenance (defence programme);
    9. the manufacturing of aircraft and engine components (civil programmes).


The actual capabilities of the Romanian Aeronautical Industry, based upon the existing good manufacturing facilities, the highly qualified manpower and the strength of its experience, covers a wide range of high quality aeronautical products manufacture (aircraft, helicopters, gliders/motorgliders, aircraft engines, helicopter powerplants, dynamic assemblies for helicopters, actuators and servovalves, landing gears, brakes, hydro-pneumatical accessories and equipment, electrical/electronic equipment, and parts, components and subassemblies for the these products) and services provision for civil and military aircraft. All products and services are supplied according to the customers’ requirements and at the most competitive prices, by achieving a cost/performance ratio favourable to the customers.

At present, the Romanian Aeronautical Industry consists of companies whose main mission is to accomplish the ongoing restructuring process in order to draw out the value of the entire existing potential - human, technical, technological, and know-how. The achievement of the restructuring process, together with the advantages offered by Romania’s NATO membership will allow the integration of the Romanian Aeronautical Industry into the globalised structures of the world aerospace industry and facilitate the domestic aeronautical companies access to external markets. At the same time, the focus on the issues dealing with the defence against terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction and border control also involves the use of the aeronautical industry capacities as potential bases for the maintenance of the NATO member countries aviation technique.

The Romanian Aeronautical Industry was, is and intends to be a centre of excellence within the Romanian defence industry, providing, at the same time, advanced technologies transfer and know-how to other economic areas, according to the performance standards imposed by the processes of globalization and accession into the European Union.